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How to set up multiple profiles in Chrome

Chrome's sync has been wonky at times, but a new feature in Chrome 16 just made running two accounts in the browser much easier. Here's how you get started.

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There's a ton of reasons to love Chrome, but syncing isn't one of them--yet. Google has just built a new feature into Chrome 16 that could make multiple account management much better.

Multiple-user support is similar to Chrome's Sync feature, but it's more of a complementary feature than a must-use. Sync allows you to always have access to the same bookmarks, history, themes, and preferences. Multiuser support allows you to share a computer or maintain separate Google identities without logging out of the operating system. This could be useful for single-computer households or small businesses, but it's really good for people who want to maintain more than one Gmail or Google account at a time.

Here's how you do it:

Step 1: Create a new profile by going to the Wrench menu's new "Sign into Chrome" option. If you're already using Chrome's sync, you'll see your account listed as "Signed in as..."

Step 2: Go back to the Wrench, choose Options (Preferences on a Mac,) then Personal Stuff, and "Add new user." This will open a new Chrome window.

Step 3: The new user must repeat the "Sign into Chrome" procedure. This associates the Google account with the profile.

Step 4: Bask in the glory of being able to manage two accounts from the same browser without crossing your Google streams.

You can also customize the profile's name and icon, and Google has provided some cutesy icons such as an alien, a flower, and a ninja. Once set up, you can jump accounts at will on the left of the tab bar.

By the way, a word of caution: the multiuser profile support is not intended to secure your private data against other users' prying eyes, literally. Although your synced data might be secured on the server, if you're logged in to Chrome with multiple profiles, anybody with keyboard and mouse access can switch profiles and get at your personal "stuff," as the Goog likes to call it.

This is far less secure than forcing people to re-enter passwords before each opening of a second profile, but it is more convenient if you're the only person who uses that particular computer. Basically, if your addiction to Google services is deep and spans multiple accounts, the new multiprofile switch is a small step toward making you a happier Googler.